KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For about one week now, passengers have landed at the new terminal at Kansas City International Airport.
But now it’s post-flight jitters hitting some travelers waiting to be picked up.
Airport officials say certain drivers are parking—some even abandoning—their cars at the curb, waiting to pick up their passengers. The situation has already caused major back-ups multiple times.
Drivers see most of these back-ups happening in the late evenings, bringing cars to a crawl, even past the off-ramp to get to the main driving loop.
Justin Meyer, Deputy Director of Aviation of the Kansas City Aviation Department, said it is a combination of things leading to this situation.
First, around 10 o’clock you might have around 1,000 travelers arriving at KCI. That is a big number, with perhaps half of those people getting picked up.
Secondly, people are not used to the new set-up yet. At the old terminals, drivers could pretty much park as long as they wanted.
“If your guest isn’t here, with their bag in hand, having you on the curb causes those other 499 vehicles serious problems,” Meyer said.
More traffic enforcement has been added to keep cars moving. It is a hassle for some drivers to choose to make loops until their passengers arrive.
“It was taking too long, so I had to move it,” Carlos Lucero, one driver picking up his family, said.
“I understand that. It was taking too long. But there was something wrong, they were waiting to pick up the luggage. So they were taking too long inside,” Lucero said, highlighting what would be considered the wrong approach to pick-up.
According to airport officials, drivers making pick-ups should use the Cell Phone Parking Lot and not roll up until the people they’re picking up are ready to be picked up, with their bag in hand.
The Cell Phone Parking Lot at 680 Brasilia Avenue near the Marriott Hotel is free.
Sunday night was another example of traffic issues when a long line of cars and SUVs once again poked out beyond the intended lead-up for drivers.
The potential cause: drivers lingering instead of active loading and unloading.
“Understanding that no one wants to cause the problem, but if someone is parked on the curb, or in a worst case scenario, has left their vehicle unattended on the curb and then our officers are having to deal with writing that citation and are calling a wrecker to get it moved. Then, they’re pulled away from being able to move other cars that are queueing up as well,” Meyer said.
Some travelers say it is just going to take some getting used to.
“I just said, ‘This is when I’m getting in.’ I walked out the door and said ‘I’m at 1h’ or whatever. And they said: ‘I’ll be right there,'” traveler Jennifer Turgeon said.
“They had to go around again due to the continuous circle,” Turgeon said.
But Meyer said he thinks this issue will be solved soon, with better signage to be installed and more emphasis being put on traffic control.
“I truly think in a matter of weeks we’ll have better announcements. We’ll have better signage, encouraging people to keep on moving. And certainly the understanding of how this needs to work in order to be successful. I don’t think anyone is trying to make everyone else’s life terrible,” Meyer said.